Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XVI. - The True Interest and Political Maxims, of the Republic of Holland
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
CHAP. XVI. - Pieter de la Court, The True Interest and Political Maxims, of the Republic of Holland 
The True Interest and Political Maxims of the Republic of Holland (London: John Campbell, Esq, 1746).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
That monopolizing companies and guilds, excluding all other persons from their societies, are very prejudicial to Holland.
How hurtful select companies and guilds are,MUCH less ought we to curb or restrain our citizens and natives, any more than strangers, from their natural liberty of seeking their livelihoods in their native country, by select and authoriz’d companies and guilds: for when we consider, that all the trade of our common inhabitants is circumscribed or bounded well nigh within Europe, and that in very many parts of the same, as France, England, Sweden, &c. our greatest trade and navigation thither is crampt by the high duties, or by patent companies, like those of our Indian societies; as also how small a part of the world Europe is, and how many merchants dwell in Holland, and must dwell there to support it; we shall have no reason to wonder, if all the beneficial traffick in these small adjacent countries be either worn out, or in a short time be glutted with an over-trade. But we may much rather wonder, why the greatest part of the world should seem unfit for our common inhabitants to trade in, and that they should continue to be debarred from it, to the end that some few persons only may have the sole benefit of it.To all those means of subsistence, whereby to deprive them and lessen their number. It is certainly known that this country cannot prosper, but by means of those that are most industrious and ingenious, and that such patents or grants do not produce the ablest merchants. But on the other hand, because the grantees, whether by burghership, select companies, or guilds, think they need not fear that others, who are much more ingenious and industrious than themselves, and are not of the burghership, companies and guilds, shall lessen their profits; therefore the certain gains they reap make them dull, slow, unactive, and less inquisitive. Whereas on the other side, we say that necessity makes the old wife trot, hunger makes raw beans sweet, and poverty begets ingenuity.Who out of their abundance become wastful, dull and slothful. And besides, it is well known, now especially when Holland is so heavily taxed, that other less burdened people, who have no fisheries, manufactures, traffick and freight ships, cannot long subsist but by their industry, subtilty, courage, and frugality. In a word, these patent companies and guilds do certainly exclude many useful inhabitants from that trade and traffick. But those that possess those privileges with sufficient knowledge and fitness, need not fear that others that are more industrious and ingenious than themselves, shall prevent them of their profit by the exercise of the like abilities and parts;So that the inhabitants of other countries may the easier and sooner draw our means of subsistence to themselves. neither can it be so fully carried on and improved for the common benefit of the country, by a small number of people, as by many: so that in the mean time other people that we cannot exclude from that traffick or manufacture by means of our grants and guilds, have a great opportunity of profitably improving that which so foolishly, and with so much churlishness is prohibited to our common inhabitants.Enquiry made, whether if all countries have the freedom of an open trade, it would diminish our traffick in general, or quite destroy it. Whereas otherwise, the provident and industrious Hollanders would easily draw to them all foreign trade, and the making of incredibly more manufactures than we now work on. That which is objected against this is, that the Hollanders are a people of such a nature, that if the trade were open into Asia, Africa, and America, they would overstock all those countries with goods, and so destroy that trade to the prejudice of Holland; which is so far from the truth, and all appearance thereof, that it is hardly worth answering. For first, so great and mighty a trade by the Hollanders, in those vast and trafficking countries, would be the greatest blessing to them that could be wished for upon earth; would to God any of us could ever see Holland so happy. And next it cannot be denied, that even in this small Europe, the overstocking of countries with goods may indeed lessen the gains of some particular merchants;And the impossibility thereof is made manifest. but yet after such a manner that the said overstocking with the said goods really is, and can be no other than an effect or fruit of a present overgrown trade of this country, in proportion to the smallness of those countries with which we are permitted to traffick. And thirdly, it is evident, that the Hollanders by such overstocking have never yet lost any trade in any country or place of Europe, nor can they lose it so long as that trade remains open, because that superfluity of goods transported is soon spent, and that same trade is by the same or some other of our merchants immediately reassumed and taken up, so soon as by a following scarcity in those countries there is any appearance of making more profit by those, or other commodities.
But supposing it to be true, that the Dutch merchants by overstocking those trading countries should run a risque of losing that trade in some parts; yet considering the smallness of those lands, it would then be doubly necessary to prevent the same by setting open the trade to Asia, Africa and America, for all the merchants of Holland.As also that trading companies by charter have ever lessened trade and navigation, and oftentimes quite ruined both. But on the other side, it is certain that the licensed monopolizing companies, by the unfaithfulness, negligence, and chargeableness of their servants, and by their vast, and consequently unmanageable designs, who are not willing to drive any trade longer than it yields excessive profit, must needs gain considerably in all their trade, or otherwise relinquish and forsake all countries that yield it not, which nevertheless would by our common inhabitants be very plentifully carried on.
In this respect it is worthy observation, that the authorized Greenland company made heretofore little profit by their fishing, because of the great charge of setting out their ships, and that the train-oil, blubber and whale-fins were not well made, handled, or cured;Which appears by vacating of the Greenland company’s charter. and being brought hither and put into warehouses, were not sold soon enough, nor to the company’s best advantage. Whereas now that every one equips their vessels at the cheapest rate, follow their fishing diligently, and manage all carefully, the blubber, train-oil, and whale-fins are imployed for so many uses in several countries, that they can sell them with that conveniency, that tho’ there are now fifteen ships for one which formerly failed out of Holland on that account, and consequently each of them could not take so many whales as heretofore; and notwithstanding the new prohibition of France, and other countries, to import those commodities; and tho’ there is greater plenty of it imported by our fishers, yet those commodities are so much raised in the value above what they were whilst there was a company, that the common inhabitants do exercise that fishery with profit to the much greater benefit of our country, than when it was (under the management of a company) carried on but by a few. It is besides very considerable, that for the most part all trades and manufactures managed by guilds in Holland, do sell all their goods within this country to other inhabitants who live immediately by the fisheries, manufacturies, freight ships, and traffick: so that no members of those guilds, under what pretext soever, can be countenanced or indulged in their monopoly, or charter, but by the excluding of all other inhabitants, and consequently to the hindrance of their country’s prosperity. For how much soever those members sell their pains or commodities dearer than if that trade or occupation was open or free, all the other better inhabitants that gain their subsistance immediately, or by consequence by a foreign consumption, must bear that loss. And indeed our fishermen, dealers in manufactures, owners of freight-ships, and traders, being so burdened with all manner of imposts, to oppress them yet more in their necessity by these monopolies of guilds, and yet to believe that it redounds to the good of the land, because it tends to the benefit of such companies, is to me incomprehensible. These guilds are said indeed to be a useful sort of people; but next to those we call idle drones, they are the most unprofitable inhabitants of the country, because they bring in no profit from foreign lands for the welfare of the inhabitants of Holland. Esop hath well illustrated this folly by a cat, who first lick’d off the oil from an oiled file, and continued licking, not observing that she had by little and little lick’d her tongue thorough which was given her to sustain her life, and carry nourishment into her body, nor that she fed not on a file which did not consume, but on her own blood before her tongue was totally consumed.
On the contrary, I can see no good, nor appearance of good, which the guilds in Holland do produce, but only that foreign masters and journeymen artificers, having made their works abroad, and endeavouring to sell them to our inhabitants, thereby to carry the profit out of our country into their own, are herein check’d and opposed by our masters of guilds or corporations. But besides that this is more to the prejudice than advantage of the country, since by consequence our fishers, manufacturers, traders, and owners of ships let to freight, are thereby bereft of the freedom of buying their necessaries at the cheapest rate they can; it is also evident, that this feeding of foreigners upon the Hollander would be more strenuously and profitably opposed and prevented, in case all handicraft work and occupations were permitted to be made, sold and practised by all, and no other people, except such as have their settled habitations in this country.